Go Shopping!!

Welcome to another installment of 10-minute branding.

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

A Gift that Keeps on Giving

Disclaimer:  While we only recommend products we know and love, we want to note we use affiliate links and may earn a commission for purchases made through those links.

Do you have 10 free minutes until your next task and want to create a way to keep your business’s name in front of existing and potential customers? Then, Go Shopping . . . for possible promotional gifts that you can distribute in a variety of ways.  For example, imprinted pens often have a good shelf life – sticking around in the pocket of your patron or on his/her desk for a considerable amount of time and then staying in the face (and the thoughts!!) of that person throughout the day.

Before you reflexively say you don’t have the budget or extra cash, know that cost and quantity can vary greatly, which makes this opportunity available to everyone.  You can check out major, well-known suppliers like 4imprint and see a wide spectrum of options (including some for well under a dollar per unit) . . . OR you can go to a site such as Zazzle to obtain just a handful that can often feature artwork relevant to your business as well as your particular company’s branding.  While the per-unit cost might be greater, the ability to buy a few at a time might be helpful.

Such small quantities can be used very effectively when distributed in a personalized way.  For example, invite a prized customer to lunch and pass along a customized pen as a takeaway.  (The whole cost of such a gesture can – together with a good product and service —  help secure brand loyalty in the present and future.)  If, on the other hand, you have been able to invest in a larger quantity, we suggest getting a good enough quality to enhance the chances of being retained but at a sufficiently inexpensive cost to distribute them freely – including having a handful at your point of purchase for customers to grab-and-go at will.

While we have offered pens as a very typical example of a common company promotional gift offered by a high percentage of businesses, the same logic can be applied to countless other items like key chains, stress balls, lens wipes, sanitizer bottles, lip gloss, etc.

Although you can seldom go wrong with a pen, look for a gift that is both unique and reflects your products and/or services  For instance, a contractor might offer a tape measure, an optician an eye glass repair kit, or a doctor a pill box.

If you are lucky, you might find the perfect item in just 10 minutes. If you are one of those people who just can’t get enough shopping and are constantly distracted by a need to check out each item you see, more than one 10-minute session might be required.

Once the perfect promotional gift has been identified, use a second 10-minute session to place your order – typically an action that can be accomplished via the Internet and/or a phone call.  When completing your transaction, remember to stay consistent with your brand style guide in selecting fonts, colors, bylines, etc., which will enhance the recognition of your brand.

As always, we welcome your comments and questions.  Till then, Happy Shopping!!

Want to see an example of a customizable pen that can be obtained in small quantities per purchase from Zazzle?  Check out Example 1 and Example 2.

A Match Made in Minutes

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

Consider Bringing a Partner On Board

Owning and operating a small business can be a lonely and overwhelming proposition.  Sometimes, you just wish you had some additional resource you could rely upon.  If you have ever found yourself in this position, perhaps you should consider enlisting the assistance of a strategic partner – the topic of this newest 10-minute brand building tip.

Such a relationship can but does not have to involve any kind of formal legal arrangement.  Rather, you are looking to pair with another business that – like you – is hoping to gain a certain marketplace advantage.

Identifying a Potential Prospect

Some combinations seem to have a natural synergy – like the way peanut butter pairs with jelly or marshmallows with chocolate bars and graham crackers.  When considering prospects, ask yourself what other product or service might be acquired to better take full advantage of the characteristics of yours. 

For instance . . .

If your business is to share advice about branding, you might consider forming a strategic partnership with a designer who produces branded stationary, business cards, etc.  If you are a farmer with apple orchards specializing in the production of cider, perhaps your ideal strategic partner would be a grocery store or farmer’s market that uses seasonal campaigns (such as fall, Thanksgiving, Halloween) to promote sales.

Basically, think of a business that could benefit from your product while, in turn, enhancing yours.  That said, you will want to consider issues such as goals for growth, culture, values, attitude toward service, and history of success to ensure the optimum likelihood of a good match.

Potential Benefits of a Strategic Partnership

Many exist . . . but I will concentrate on three for the purposes of this piece.

Cut Costs

One role of well-matched strategic partners is the ability to run joint sales and advertising campaigns, which has the potential to substantially reduce the expense of both parties by splitting costs while also allowing everyone to take advantage of economies of scale.  Better deals can sometimes be available to companies willing and/or able to spend more, which can be accomplished through a partner while your own original investment remains the same.  Any activity targeting large numbers of prospects falls into this category (direct mail/e-mail campaigns, sales events, etc.)

Increase Your Audience

You have your own list of customers as well as a data base of prospects.  More than likely, your strategic partner does as well.  Combining these lists for activities such as direct mailings or even telemarketing campaigns substantially increases your pool of highly qualified prospects.  If you’ve chosen your strategic partner well, their customers should be very interested in your products/services and more likely than your average cold contact to ultimately become your customer as well.  In fact, I’d be willing to bet that you already share some of the same customers and that letting them know about your strategic partnership can only strengthen their loyalties to both of you, which suggests a joint loyalty program might be very successful.

Remember, strategic partners are not your direct competitors.  Rather, these companies are ones that complement your main focus . . . so sharing of customer data is reasonable.

Enhance Your Product

Even the best products can always become a bit better . . . but you just lack the resources to pursue such development.  By choosing your partner wisely, you can make your product better by being able to offer additional qualities brought to the table by your partner.   (Once peanut butter found jelly, that partnership created a new enhanced offering called PB&Js . . . and the rest is history!!)

In the case of a branding blog, we try to explain some of the characteristics that create an effective brand, we can even provide instruction for building certain basic tools like logos.  However, a partnership might allow us to highlight certain vendors who are able to supply finished products for items like brochures (helping those readers who prefer not to take the DIY approach).

Your 10-Minute Branding Assignment

Identify a company offering a product/service that complements yours.  Visit their web site to get a sense of their audience and approach to sales.  Determine whether the prospect has been involved in a coordinated effort with another business (perhaps even one of your direct competitors).  Track down the names and contact information of people within the operation who might be the best ones to approach about possible partnerships.  (The “About” page of the candidate’s web site can sometimes yield this information.)

While your 10-minute task for the day is done once you’ve completed this assignment, another day your mission will be to make a preliminary contact.  This process can be repeated as many times as necessary to move forward.  The potential benefits will easily justify the effort.

Conduct an Ongoing Three-a-Day Sales Campaign

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

This newest 10-minute brand building tip makes the assumption that you have already followed our advice to start to create a 10-minute contact database (see Build a Contact Prospect List) or alternatively have a list acquired separately from a third party that you’re now ready to start approaching.

While contact and production sales campaigns are most often created via a major coordinated effort aimed at reaching dozens of prospects simultaneously, your initiative need not be such an all-consuming, resource-draining exercise to produce meaningful results that enhance both your brand building activities and sales.

Instead, we suggest developing an ongoing sales initiative that will approach the task three prospects at a time.  Since your contact list was developed from your personal knowledge and efforts, we believe this data will be more qualified than lists acquired from a third party and will very often allow you to know the best media or strategy for making your approach.

Nevertheless, success will still be measured in very small percentages.  However, each success will represent the opportunity to create a loyal customer that delivers repeat business over time, and you also benefit in another less obvious way.  Since your direct marketing materials will be incorporating the key elements of your brand in your chosen way, this exercise also reinforces your brand with an important potential audience.  

Direct Mail Letter – E-mail – Text Message – Phone Call

As a separate exercise apart from this 10-minute tip, we suggest you build reusable templates for generating a letter and/or e-mail to individual prospects.  Then, you simply have to plug in the necessary name and contact information, generate the document, and send your solicitation to the targeted recipient.

Generally speaking, you should be able to complete three prospects at a time and still have a chance (and the energy!) to properly update the activity in a contact and production control log (that is either part of your original database or a separate spreadsheet).  While methods can vary, you need to maintain a record of every date and method of contact as well as any responses received.  In general, we suggest using a multimedia approach, so we recommend scheduling your first follow-up contact about a week after your letter or e-mail was sent.  Since you are building your contact list three items at a time and executing your sales and follow-up activites at a similar pace across as many days or weeks as needed, this process will essentially become an ongoing effort spread throughout the year that hopefully also produces some ongoing results!

If you initially felt a call was the best method to use, your follow-up will depend upon the response you receive.

  • If you actually spoke with a person, a letter or e-mail can be sent to thank the person for his or her time and consideration . . . with a promise to contact them again in the future.
  • If your initial call did not get through, a second call is probably in order – separated by about a week.
  • If one of these contacts connects and you are ready to move on to the next stage of the sales cycle, plan to schedule a follow-up session (very often a personal or virtual visit/meeting) to try to convert the sales lead into a customer.

When your initial contact and follow-up activities fail to produce results, plan to repeat the same activities with the same contacts at a future date – recognizing that repeated efforts might be required to get your message in front of the person at the right time – buying time (that moment when a potential need becomes an actual one). 

Note:  Although this article deals exclusively with implementing the mechanics and timing of running of a 3-a-day sales campaign, you can find more information about creating the necessary templates in other articles at www.brandbuildingforsmallbusiness.com.  Specifically, you might want to check out:   Role of Branding in Direct Mail/E-mail and Creating a Mail Merge Document for Direct Response Mailing.

BTW – Using direct contact opportunities to wish your customer a safe and happy holiday for occasions such  as Thanksgiving makes a positive statement about your brand!!

Measuring the Success of This 10-Minute Branding Task

While accomplishing three contacts in a day might seem like too little to make a meaningful difference when the percent returns are so small on direct marketing and telemarketing activities, these numbers DO multiply with consistent, sustained effort.   Furthermore, conversion of a single lead to a customer who becomes a loyal repeat client year after year represents a significant victory – the kind upon which successful businesses are built.

Build a Contact Prospect List

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

Add Three New Names Per Session

When you think about telemarketing, direct mail, or some other sales campaign, you probably imagine using a huge database of prospects obtained from a third-party source.  Perhaps the list was purchased from a vendor or downloaded from a non-profit professional organization of which you are a member.  Then, you probably see this list becoming the engine that drives a huge concerted effort involving many people . . . and then producing results measured in depressingly low percentages.

Well, that description is very often extremely accurate and can indeed be extremely worthwhile . . . but can also sometimes involve extensive resources.  However, another 10-minute approach to the same basic activity does exist.

Specifically, build your very own sales contact list three entries at a time.  Create a spreadsheet or other electronic list that includes the following columns for:

  • Name (consider separating into separate columns for first, last, and salutation)
  • Address (consider separating into separate columns for street, city, state, zip)
  • Phone number
  • E-mail address
  • Social media presence (identify which ones)
  • Dates contacted (Leave space for three entries)
  • Contact method (Leave space for three entries)
  • Contact response (Leave space for three entries)

When identifying the entries to include in your database, consider prospects from the following:

  • Your street, town, neighborhood
  • Personal acquaintances that could also have a business interest in your products/services.
  • Business associations and memberships such as the Chamber of Commerce, trade groups, etc.
  • Leads mentioned by your friends and family members.
  • Internet searches using a variety of terms related to your business.
  • Possible leads encountered through social media or other advertising activities.
  • Sign-in sheets located either online or within your place of operations.
  • Etc.

You Get the Idea

Prospects can come from almost anywhere; you probably encounter a half dozen a day . . . but never bother to formally collect the information into a useable file with accompanying contact information.

When entering such data into your spreadsheet, finding the names will probably come fairly easily, but you will spend the majority off your time gathering the other information that makes the file useful, using phone books, online searches, social media searches, directories published by groups and organizations like your local Chamber of Commerce, etc.  I can almost guarantee that 10 minutes will be required to do your three daily entries, and you will probably not be able to fill in every column of contact information but WILL succeed in collecting enough to be useful.

Next Steps for This 10-Minute Branding Task

Collecting three prospects per day may not seem like enough to be useful . . . but perform that task for 10 days during a month, and you have 30 at the end of that period.  Do that for six months and you have 180.  Furthermore, your list is reusable.  Following the basic principles of sales contact campaigns, you should plan to reach out to each name you have collected at least three times at different intervals to try to assure that you get your information in front of that person at buying time – the circumstance in which you are most likely to be successful in making a sale, adding a new customer, etc.  Similarly, you can try to approach your prospects in a variety of ways – by phone, by mail (direct mail letter or postcard), by social media messaging, etc.  That way, you are giving yourself the best possible chance of reaching out to each prospect by his or her primary media preference.

Will You Be Successful?

Conventional wisdom suggests yes – with sustained, consistent, and professional effort, you will generate new business.  While the percentage of victories will probably be low, new customers tend to be recurring and can more than payoff your 10-minute investments fairly quickly over time.   Furthermore, I think you will find that a list assembled in the ways described above will be somewhat prequalified and therefore more useful than prospect lists obtained in other ways that tend to include countless entries with little likelihood of success. 

For more information, see Role of Branding in Direct Mail/E-mail and Creating a Mail Merge Document for Direct Response Mailing.  Also, look for further 10-minute branding suggestions upon executing a prospect sales campaign three leads at a time!

Ask a Customer (Just One) To Do a Review

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

Today’s 10-Minute Tip:

If you have a very friendly repeat customer who has been complimentary about your business, you have a possible candidate to write a review for you.  Very often, you just need to ask.  Since this 10-minute branding activity can be done at any time, any day that you don’t have a specific idea for contributing to your company’s brand, you can ask a customer for a review.

When approaching an unfamiliar vendor to acquire a needed product or service, most of us at least take a cursory glance at past customer ratings and reviews.  While some of your patrons may not be comfortable offering a review, many would be more than willing to help out.

While an in-person request is probably ideal, an e-mail, text message, or note at the bottom of a customer satisfaction survey can also work just fine.

When making your request, emphasize how quickly and easily the task can be done.  Suggest the various ways the review can be performed – from filling out an online form to writing a short note on a piece of paper, giving you a message that can be repackaged to display on a sales counter or reproduced in a brochure.  Remember, the goal is to find a method within his/her comfort zone.  (If appropriate, offer to pass along a link to an on-line review site.)

Helpful Hints You Can Provide

  • The review can be used to discuss your product(s) and/or services.
  • Suggest the person be as detailed and specific as possible.
  • Honesty always comes across best and creates a more meaningful and sincere message.
  • Reviews and ratings can be revised/updated in the future.
  • Tell the person to consider what he or she would personally like to know and include that kind of information.
  • Thank the person.

Making a customer request for a review can be accomplished in under 10 minutes . . . but the benefit can linger for years to come.

Learn more at:

Getting Reviews for Your Business

Review Request Sign

Weeeeeeeeeeee’re Back . . .!

Prefatory Note:

When Carole first suggested the idea of moving forward with a somewhat altered approach to our blog  (i.e., 10-Minute Branding) I was intrigued and sensed some real value that would speak to the current needs of people trying to build a successful small business and have some semblance of a work/life balance.  While I am currently at a different stage than her (having – for instance – two adult children out on their own rather than two teenagers at home), the freshness of her plan was appealing and seemed in keeping with our DIY mentality.  BUT . . . me being me, I had to build a justification for myself.  Below is where I landed.

Perform an Internet search for the statement “attention span of millennials and Generation Z’ers,” and you will find a variety of references to an 8-to-12 second time frame.

Is this finding a sad commentary on the younger crowd who are soon destined to rule the world, or is this fact a symptom of necessary adaptation to survive and ultimately thrive within an increasingly complicated and complex society?

Personally, I’ve come to believe the latter.  As the demands on our time and attention have grown, the ability to process information quickly and make meaningful use of small blocks of time becomes essential.   Furthermore, this realization has led us to consider the ways in which we can best be of service to small business owners who have among the greatest demands on their time and resources and who must achieve the highest level of efficiency to be successful in today’s fast-paced business environment.

10-Minute Branding

We think this concept of 10-minute branding can indeed be an important key to Get Sh – Done (and perhaps still create some extra time for family).  So . . .

After a two-month pause in new additions to our blog, we have decided to resume but with a shift in focus for the immediate future.

Over the past three years, we have covered many of the basic principles and tools of branding for small businesses.  Equipped with this library of resources, we decided we could be of greatest use to you – our audience – (while still preserving our chosen DIY  focus) by offering weekly tips on branding activities that can be accomplished in just 10 minutes.  (While some activities might require spilling over into multiple 10-minute sessions, our goal is to avoid intruding upon your already-busy schedule while still helping you realize your overarching goal of building a better, stronger brand identity.

Can You Really Accomplish Anything Meaningful in Just 10 Minutes?

Guess we’ll see, but . . .

Some branding activities can indeed seemingly be done in 10 minutes.  For instance, you can write a thank you note to a customer that instills in them a strong sense of service while giving you a chance to tout your business in a desired way.  Furthermore, 10 minutes a day for each day of a six-day work week yields an hour of potential productivity.  If you used those 10 minutes to collect three prospects’ contact info, you’d have a dozen and a half by the end of the week to approach the following week one by one with a branded message.  I fully suspect that converting some of those prospects into loyal customers would justify the effort and validate the process.

Furthermore, devoting one hour per week in 10-minute blocks yields more than 50 hours of annual productivity devoted specifically to building and refining your brand.  Needless to say, a lot can be accomplished in a work week+ period.

That said, you will have to be disciplined in doing your 10 minutes per day.  If you do, we believe you will be pleasantly surprised.

Our Part

For our part, we will provide tips that we believe can be accomplished in one or more ten-minute blocks.   We figure one way to make this happen is to try to devote as close to 10 minutes as possible to our creation of the tip, which should help ensure that the activity does not get overly complicated.

This approach is very much an experiment on our part.   As a result, we really would appreciate your feedback by leaving a comment in the form below or by sending a private email to brandbuildingforsmallbusiness@gmail.com.

May 1 – 7:  Celebrate National Small Business Week

A few weeks ago, we told you about National Small Business Week in 2022.  (See Today’s Tip: Bridge Building and National Small Business Week 2022 – Brand Building for Small Business.)  Today, we’re just reminding you that the time is NOW!

The statistics supporting the importance of small businesses are always compelling.  For instance, smallbizgenius.net (using a variety of recognized sources) notes:

  • There are 32.5 million small businesses in the US.
  • 48.9% of small businesses survive five years or more.
  • 77% of small business owners say they feel optimistic about the future of their companies.
  • 50% of all small businesses are operated from home.
  • 82% of businesses that fail do so because of cash flow problems.
  • Small businesses account for 44% of US economic activity.

See 40+ Small Business Statistics: The Ultimate 2022 List (smallbizgenius.net) for more.

With small businesses forming such an integral part of the economy in the United States, we should all take time to celebrate the importance of our local business community.  

What Local Business Owners Can Still Do Now

While National Small Business Week will be underway shortly, a small business owner still has a number of ways to participate.

  • Write a press release about the celebration and your business, announcing upcoming events, sales, celebrations, etc. (See our article about writing our own in 2020.)
  • Send customers and staff a thank you note, letting them know that you appreciate their importance to your success and reminding them that their support also helps keep the national economy strong.  (Check out our “How To” piece on creating your own thank you cards.)
  • Use your social media to call attention to National Small Business Week and share some of the many resources available.
  • Participate in and support other National Small Business activities in your region.  To help you identify relevant events, go to the SBA web site, which provides an easy-to-use tool.  All you need to do is provide a zip code, and you will get a list of functions in an area up to a 200 mile radius. [See National Small Business Week (sba.gov).]  You just may find a quick and easy way to support this cause. 
  • And . . . while you are at this site, check out all of the many very useful tools the Small Business Administration (SBA) makes available, including a virtual summit May 2 – 5.

With the week’s observance about to get underway for 2022, you have no time to waste.  However, you can also consider any time spent now a great long-term investment in your early planning for National Small Business Week 2023!

Pays to Be “Best of”

Recently, my local newspaper conducted an annual “Best of” campaign/competition among area businesses.  The idea is to have subscribers vote for the best examples of local businesses across numerous categories.   The process spans several months and ends with an award ceremony at an area restaurant during which the winning platinum, gold, and silver winners receive their plaques and 15 minutes of fame.  The winners are announced and/or spotlighted in a special edition of the newspaper (which, coincidentally, seems to be a popular venue for winning businesses to take out ads congratulating their employees and constituents).

While some cynics might pay the greatest amount of attention to the potential for ad revenue generated by this process for the paper, I happen to believe a great service is being offered to local businesses – providing an opportunity to earn publicity and bragging rights by being identified as a customer favorite by the customers themselves.

Awards can be a great way of calling attention to your brand.  Very often, these local contests have so many very specific categories, your chance of finding the right one (and ultimately winning!) are good.

If you are wondering just how common these contests are, I suggest you do an Internet search of the term “best of” business awards or some other similar variation, and I believe you will be surprised by the large number of specialized local, regional, and national activities of this kind that exist.  If you do not find one that seems likely to be suitable for your business, I would very frankly be quite surprised.

If, on the other hand, you question whether participation in such an exercise really provides much benefit to the business, “According to a research study by Hendricks & Singhal of the University of Western Ontario and Georgia Institute of Technology, it was revealed that more than 600 quality corporate award winners had 37 percent more sales growth and 44 percent higher stock price return than their peers.” (Source: Business.com)

Also, I suggest you talk to the many candidates who wage extensive campaigns to encourage voters to nominate and vote for their operations. 

Speaking from Experience . . .

You see, I also have some personal experience with “Best of” successes of this kind and found lots of value in linking the building of our brand to recognition.  Any label that identifies you as one of the best of pretty much anything is helpful.

The specific example I’m remembering dates back many years.  My employer was a fairly small local firm in the process of becoming a regional operation with national aspirations.   As you are no doubt aware, getting an audience that knows you one way to begin seeing you a bit differently can be very challenging (which is also the reason rebranding takes time and effort).  Although we probably had no right to believe we stood a chance of winning, we entered a contest that was naming the Best Large Place to Work in Pennsylvania.  (Best “small” company was a separate category . . . and the one we’d have preferred to use as our niche because we thought we’d compete more successfully; however, we had just a few too many employees.)

Needless to say, a considerable amount of time, energy, and resources were devoted to this process and assembling the extensive materials used to make our case.  This particular contest also involved a survey of all our existing employees, a task that required some fairly extensive coordination and choreography to collect sufficient data and to do so in a timely manner.

Much to our surprise at the time, we were named the 2nd Best Large Place to Work in Pennsylvania.  Having your brand recognized in this new way by a credible, independent, third-party source provided some immediate momentum to our efforts to convince our audience and constituents that we had, indeed, become a regional player . . .  while also giving them grounds to believe us when we said we’d someday perform on a national stage!

Upon winning, we immediately prepared a press release (in addition to that of the contest sponsor) to promote our victory.  We then disseminated this information as widely as possible and encouraged our readers to check the contest background material provided by the contest organizers.   Needless to say, we immediately adopted the recognition as part of our brand and brand iconography . . . and we began including the information on all sales literature, as part of our company boilerplate description, in various locations across our web site, and in all appropriate corporate correspondence.   Furthermore, we were able to use this designation as part of our self-promotion for many years because recognition of this “Best of” kind tends to have a pretty good shelf life – all of which made our original investment in time and resources very worthwhile and a bargain for the return we received.

That said, we did not win every contest we ever entered . . .but had enough success to consider activities of this kind to be part of our overall branding strategy!

The Lesson to Be Learned

My above example is just one of many ways in which “Best of” successes can be used to shape your brand.  For instance, a small privately owned area drug store has used our local newspaper competition to build a reputation for having the “Best Sandwiches” in town.  Word has spread, so the sandwich shop was able to start experimenting with take-out dinner entrees as well.   While the paper’s publicity was essential to this expanded rebranding of the pharmacy, the fact that the subs they made really are terrific certainly helped!

Similarly, several companies have found sufficient value in these contests to buy paid advertising that asks people to vote for their businesses.  While I don’t necessarily advocate this later approach as necessary, I offer the information as further evidence of the need to seriously consider identifying and participating in “Best of” activities suitable to your needs.

However, the local pharmacy’s experience is instructive in yet another way because:

In the end, you can’t ever talk the talk without being able to walk the walk!!

Your participation in such contests is just a means of calling attention to qualities that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.  Then again, isn’t that part of the basic mission of branding.

Press Release Generator – Sample Press Release Announcing a New Hire

In an earlier article, we discussed Press Releases as Another Opportunity for Branding.  Specifically, we addressed some of the basic criteria needed to produce a successful PR piece, including discussions about:  Topics, Voice, Audience, Outlets, Format, Quotes and Photos, and Post-Submission Follow-up.  In a second article, we wrote a Press Release to Introduce Ourselves as Part of National Small Business Week (in 2020).  In yet another article, we provided a general Press Release Generator – Identifying Your Content.  At that time, we promised to begin providing examples of the specific kinds of press releases we have mentioned just in case anyone happens to still be sitting staring at a blank page after having crumpled up a dozen failed efforts.

In getting started, the rule of the 5 W’s still applies, so we encourage you to review our earlier articles.  We also want to remind you that voice matters – you must write as though you were a totally objective journalist preparing the story.  Similarly, the content must be of interest to the audience of the intended publications.

That said, the announcement of new employee hires and/or promotions are among the most common press releases and the easiest to place – assuming the publication has a section for including such pieces.  (Many do – particularly trade magazines and papers.)  However, be aware that some outlets might be willing to include all or most of the information you provide . . . but many will reduce your words to a skeletal, bare-minimum sentence or two.  If that is the standard practice, a quick glance at past issues will let you know whether new hires and promotions are featured and the kind of space devoted to each one.

To make sure the same press release works for most circumstances, you just need to be sure the essence of your PR article is in the opening sentences with all other less critical information following (realizing that much could be cut by certain targets).  Also, plan to include a head-and-shoulder photo of the featured employee.

Below is a fill-in-the-blanks-template:

_________________

PRESS RELEASE – For Immediate Release

CONTACT INFORMATION:

[Company Name]

[Contact Name]

[Phone Number]

[E-mail Address]

[Date]

[HEADLINE ex.  NAME (of the New Hire) JOINS COMPANY NAME]

[CITY, STATE, MONTH DATE][COMPANY] has announced the addition of [EMPLOYEE FULL NAME] as the new [TITLE].  In this new capacity, [EMPLOYEE LAST NAME ONLY] will be responsible for [BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DUTIES].

Note:  Body paragraphs then follow this opening (i.e., background information, quotes, company description, etc.)

Before joining [COMPANY], [EMPLOYEE LAST NAME ONLY] served as the [TITLE OF OLD JOB] for [NAME OF OLD COMPANY] from [START DATE OF MOST RECENT OLD JOB] to [END DATE OF MOST RECENT OLD JOB].  Specifically, [he/she] handled [MENTION DUTIES]

Note:  Add the next paragraph when the past history of employee includes multiple jobs.  Repeat as needed to encompass complete work history, incorporating the most relevant and recent positions.  (Typically, no need to go back to part-time jobs while in school!!)  You can also choose to insert any education and/or licensing credentials that might be useful once past jobs are addressed.

Prior to that position, [EMPLOYEE LAST NAME ONLY] was also employed by [SECOND OLD COMPANY] as a [TITLE] from [DATE] to [DATE].

According to [NAME OF NEW SUPERVISOR OR OTHER HIGHLY PLACED OFFICIAL WILLING TO BE QUOTED], “[COMPANY] is very pleased to be adding an individual with the skill and experience needed to successfully enhance our operations and meet our goals for growth and customer satisfaction.  We fully expect [EMPLOYEE FULL NAME] will be an asset in the years to come that allows us to provide our customers with the high-quality products and services they deserve.”

Note:  Optionally add contact information.

“While[EMPLOYEE LAST NAME ONLY] will be reaching out to constituents soon, [he/she] can be contacted before then at [PHONE AND EXTENTION] or [E-MAIL].”

Note:  Your “boiler plate” company description that outlines the products, services, history, location, hours, etc. then gets added.  See our Style Guide for further information.

Also, please be aware that this “new employee” template can be easily adapted to address employee promotions.  We plan to provide an example of that kind of press release soon.

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As always, we welcome any thoughts or feedback, and we encourage you to comment by using the space provided below.  While we intend to provide other sample press releases in the coming weeks, we would be happy to receive special requests. 

Want a Word document of this example? Just click!

Good luck!